A Boy's Will/Spoils of the Dead

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Two fairies it was
   On a still summer day
Came forth in the woods
   With the flowers to play.

The flowers they plucked
   They cast on the ground
For others, and those
   For still others they found.

Flower-guided it was
   That they came as they ran
On something that lay
   In the shape of a man.

The snow must have made
   The feathery bed
When this one fell
   On the sleep of the dead.

But the snow was gone
   A long time ago,
And the body he wore
   Nigh gone with the snow.

The fairies drew near
   And keenly espied
A ring on his hand
   And a chain at his side.

They knelt in the leaves
   And eerily played
With the glittering things,
   And were not afraid.

And when they went home
   To hide in their burrow,
They took them along
   To play with to-morrow.

When you came on death,
   Did you not come flower-guided
Like the elves in the wood?
   I remember that I did.

But I recognised death
   With sorrow and dread,
And I hated and hate
   The spoils of the dead.